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Combs v. Valley

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 10, 2019

KERN VALLEY STATE PRISON, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Dashawn Wilson Combs (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on September 16, 2019, is before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 15.)

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

          The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b).

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, California. The events in the amended complaint are alleged to have occurred at Kern Valley State Prison. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) L. Moore, Correctional Lieutenant; (2) E. Ruelas, Correctional Lieutenant; (3) C. Brubaker, Correctional Sergeant; (4) J. Ronquillo, Correctional Officer; and (5) R. Perez, Correctional Officer.[1]

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 27, 2018, Plaintiff was having major pains in his left hand from a previous break during a fight. On November 27, 2018, Plaintiff went man down because of the pain in his hand and asked the tower officer to call for medical attention because his hand was leaking pus. The tower officer called medical many times and later, the officer let Plaintiff out to go to medical. As Plaintiff was walking to medical, the C-yard patio security gate officer asked Plaintiff where he was going, and Plaintiff told her to medical. She told him to wait at the C-yard gate. As he was waiting, Defendant Brubaker came out of the C-yard program office and told Plaintiff to go back to his cell. Plaintiff told Brubaker of his hand condition and that he had permission from the tower officer to go see medical.[2]

         Defendant Brubaker became upset and told Plaintiff to go back to his building. Plaintiff said no, and he wanted to talk to a Lieutenant. Defendant Brubaker called on his radio, and Defendant Perez came out of the medical building and Ms. Ventura also came out to where Plaintiff and Brubaker were. Defendant Brubaker walked up to Plaintiff and “socked” Plaintiff in his mouth, and slung him to the ground by his right arm. Defendant Perez jumped on the left side of Plaintiff's lower back with her knee and grabbed the broken hand twisting it behind Plaintiff's back. Plaintiff was put in handcuffs, and they lifted him by the handcuffs behind his back. Plaintiff was pulled up off the ground by the handcuffs and was put in a cage in the C-yard program office.

         Defendant Brubaker came back with Defendant Perez and Defendants Moore, Ronquillo, and Ruelas. They were making comments to him and laughing at Plaintiff and threatened him. Both Lieutenants Moore and Ruelas grabbed Plaintiff by his shirt and slammed him against the cage wall several times and socked Plaintiff in the face. They took him out of the cage, and Plaintiff was angry and called them names. He was slammed on the ground on his back by Moore and Ruelas and his left hand did a “pop.” Defendant Perez grabbed Plaintiff by the neck, choking him by placing her left knee in his stomach and with Defendant Brubaker holding Plaintiff's right shoulder down with his right knee. Thinking he might die, Plaintiff began to struggle, but he passed out. He awoke being wheeled in a wheelchair, with blood all over his clothes.

         Brubaker and Perez “snatched” him out of the wheelchair, but Defendant Ronquillo grabbed the bottom of the leg cuffs chain, pulled so that Plaintiff fell forward hitting the center of his chest on the day room wooden bench. They then took him to his cell. There, Ronquillo snatched both of his legs one by one while Sergeant Brubaker and Perez held both of his arms so that Plaintiff fell forward hitting his chin on the ground. They put their knees into his lower back holding his arms to take off the handcuffs. They left him in his cell, bleeding without medical treatment. Plaintiff passed out from the pain. He did not get treatment until 2 days later. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         III. Discussion

         A. Failure to Exhaust ...

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